Lust for Life is appropriately titled, for mere passion seems inadequate when describing this superb fictionalized biography (based on Irving Stone's popular novel) of Vincent Van Gogh.
In a deservedly OscarR- nominated performance, Kirk Douglas is physically and emotionally perfect as the tormented Dutch painter, whose life is chronicled from his ill-fated stint as a preacher to Belgian miners in 1878, to his Impressionist-inspired artistic awakening and psychological descent to suicide in 1890. Having triumphed with 1952's The Bad and the Beautiful, Douglas, producer John Houseman, and director Vincente Minnelli brought vigor and vitality to this blessed project, which centers on Van Gogh's stormy friendship with fellow artist Gaugin (Oscar-winner Anthony Quinn).
Minnelli used an outmoded color film process and innovative camera techniques to vividly recreate Van Gogh's paintings, and he filmed on the actual Dutch and French locations where Van Gogh's mastery flourished. The artist's lust for life also fed his madness, and this film deeply understands the fine line in between.